Google Hummingbird : Future SEO?

Google Hummingbird : Future SEO?

Search is changing. In the last twelve months we have seen a significant shift from the more traditional keyword search engine optimisation to more natural, conversational search.

Ask Google a question and you will now see an answer rather than simply a list of pages with possible answers.

Make comparisons between certain entities and Google draws from its vast database to present useful results and not just prioritised search ranking lists. Search ‘compare the Eiffel Tower to The Shard’ and Google is able to pre-empt what you are searching for and then jump ahead of simply presenting third party options to click on. Google knows that its databases probably already have the answer and thereby it takes ownership of the result.

Could this be the pre-cursor to cloud marketing. As we move around the real world, different results in our searches could be revealed based on time of day, our calendar, our past search behaviours, our stated interests and privacy settings. Google has much of the power already to achieve this and its initial foray into Google Now and it is beginning to semantically learn the interactions between datasets and then present them in a relatively seamless virtual dashboard which in time may well migrate from our traditional desktop, tablet and smart phone screens onto other devices and in other locations at a time and place to suit our every real world move.

The methods Google uses to change the context of the search results are now multifaceted. You can choose between a learned search based on your previous behaviours and interests, a more public search which is less impacted by your social habits, friends and past activities or one simply presented by the reading level of the websites available.

For example, search on ‘apples’ and you see a variety of different results. Gone are the days of assured SEO. Now it’s more likely that results will increasingly be personal to the searcher and their preferences.

We are beginning to see more social search. For example the behaviours, conversations, interactions and searches of our Google+ connections may well begin to influence the data we are presented with. As more of our contacts react and interact with a certain subject the more the likelihood that we will see this content in our own online experience.

From peer reviews of our contacts and those who are similar to us, to the pre-selected preferences that may even restrict the online world to which we are exposed, this is not always going to be a set of outcomes with which as consumers we are totally comfortable.

Inevitably privacy, security and personal preference should lead the way in the final results at the end of the day.

So as marketers today how are we best to embrace the inevitability that cloud marketing and next generation of search will fundamentally change our digital landscape and our accessibility to our customers?

The signs are that ‘long tail search content’ will continue to be favourable. Truly understanding how our target customers search for products and services like ours should continue to dominate the highest quality search results. As search moves from simple keyword driven results lists to solutions, where our offer and propositions are interwoven in customer experience of which we will play a part.

For now we must concentrate on developing content on our websites, in our blogs and on our social networks that is ‘personalised, localised, socialised’. The only way we can achieve this is by really understanding how our customers think and behave. It’s no longer about us, it’s completely about them. We are now social businesses or we don’t have sustainable businesses.

As a parting example consider this. You are a cafe in a town called Portishead, not far from a large city called Bristol. You optimise your website and online presence for ‘cafes Portishead’ because that makes logical sense in traditional keyword-driven search engine optimisation. However, the customers who spend more money in their cafe visits are now searching for ‘where is the best cafe in Portishead’. Google this yourself and look at the results? The best cafes in Portishead are now in Bristol!

To keep up with the new Google approach to search you simply need to understand your customer better and then deliver great content to them in words, images and video. This will be the currency of the future, however Google decides to rank it.